Masters of the Universe

A Star Wars spoof posing as a He Man film that somehow manages to be both awful and brilliant

What it’s about

Skeletor has taken the sorceress prisoner, and is draining her of her power as he chases the power of the greyskull which he got would make him the most being in the universe. He-Man and his companions must stop him, but in their fight to do so they end up on planet Earth.

My thoughts

This is one of those fabulously awful films, one of those films that is so awful that it somehow manages to be hilariously brilliant. First thing’s first, though it is supposed to be a He-Man it is in fact more of a Star Wars spoof, though there are no light sabres there are what are basically storm troopers, just they are wearing black armour rather than white.

There are also laser guns which, just like in Star Wars, seem to be the most inaccurate weapon on earth and in fact despite the fact throughout it appears that it would be harder to miss than hit He-Man and his crew, the bad guys keep managing to miss.

Also though there are no light sabres, He-Man does repel lasers using his sword. And I’m going to throw in a little bit of a spoiler alert here, but the way the bad guy gets dealt with in the end, if you’ve seen the end of Star Wars episode six, then you’ll recognise the moment.

But somehow despite all of this, perhaps because of all of this, this film is simply hilariously brilliant. Dolph Lundgren plays He-Man and looks the part, also I suspect the reason for his muscles being so bulging throughout is because he never at any point holsters his sword, like literally no matter what he never puts that sword down.

Then there are his co-stars, Billy Barty plays Gwildor, a character who resembles a cross between the Lord of the Rings Gandalf and Gimli; Frank Langella plays Skeletor, Courtney Cox also stars in this film, so there are some decent stars in this film and all of them do their best to work with the script that they have.

Though despite Frank Langella putting in a Shakespearean esque performance as Skeletor (not sure if that is a compliment or not in this case), the star performer is without question Dolph Lundgren, like said he very much looks like He-Man (despite his outfit), there is no disputing that, but at the same time he manages to look throughout the entire film like he is thinking what the hell is going on here. He really just appears to be thinking that I can’t believe this is actually happening, have I really signed up for this film, and somehow that makes it brilliant. Maybe I just imagined this but I definitely felt like that was what the expression his face was saying.

The reason that this is so brilliant is because as you watch it, all you will be thinking is, what the hell is going on here, am I really watching this, has somebody really made this?

The answer will be yes to all those questions, and the reason you will keep watching it is because it is so awful you just have to keep watching. And I imagine the reason the actors kept on acting was because they were having a lot of fun – perhaps the actors being under contract played a part but it certainly looked like they were having fun.

It should be said at this point that if you’re not a fan of films that are so awful they are brilliant, and you don’t see the hilarity in them, you will really hate this film. But if you are able to take pleasure in films that are so awful they are brilliant, then you will in all probability love this film.

Of course the majority of He-Man fans hate the film, most likely because when they heard that their favourite cartoon character was about to hit the big screen, and that Dolph Lundgren was to be the star, they were probably imagining something quite different to what this film is, which is like said basically a pantomime style Star Wars spoof.

But this film is what it is, and like said I enjoyed it very much specifically because of how awful it truly was, and for that reason from me it gets a solid thumbs up. And I have to say I give much credit to the actors in this film for having fun with this film.

​Director: Gary Goddard

Writer: David Odell, Stephen Tolkien and Gary Goddard

Genre: action, adventure, fantasy

Year: 1987

​Runtime: 106 minutes

The Perfect Order in Which To Watch The Star Wars Movies

The order that makes the Star Wars movies that much better

There is much debate about what is the best order to watch the Star Wars movies, for example some people argue that they should be watched in chronological order which would be as follows:

Star Wars movies in chronological order

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (set ten years after episode one)

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (set three years after attack of the clones, and thirteen years after episode one)

Solo: A Star Wars Story (set about twenty years after episode one)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (set thirty-two years after episode one)

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (begins moments after rogue one ends, and thirty-two years after episode one)

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (three years after A New Hope, and thirty-five years after episode one)

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (set four years after Empire strikes back, and thirty-nine years after episode one)

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (set sixty-six years after episode one, and twenty-seven years after return of the Jedi)

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (set in the same year as the previous film)

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (set a year after the previous film, and sixty-seven years after episode one)

Others argue that it is best to watch them in the order in which they were released which is as follows:

Star Wars movies in order of release

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

But I don’t think either of the above orders are the best ways to watch the Star Wars movies, I believe that the following order is best:

The order that I think is best

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Why this is the best order to watch the Star Wars movies

The first thing that you may have noticed about the above is likely that the Han Solo film, Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), has been omitted. That is because it does not really feel a part of the main narrative and I only wanted to include films which are part of the main narrative.

The second thing you will probably have noticed is that Rogue One comes after a New Hope, when chronologically speaking Rogue One comes before a New Hope. The reason I prefer watching a New Hope first is because a New Hope sets the scene for the entire Star Wars saga.

It is this film that will most likely make a person either fall in love with Star Wars or decide that Star Wars is not for them. Therefore, in my view this film has to come first. It just has to. This film is what created the entire Star Wars world, so to not watch it first in my view just makes no sense.

In regards to why Rogue One should come second, Rogue One carries much more emotional weight when it comes after a New Hope, that is to say when you know the stakes and just what they really are up against the story of Rogue One really packs a punch. A much greater punch than if it is watched prior to a New Hope.

So for those reasons for me a New Hope needs to come before Rogue One. And after Rogue One needs to come the Empire Strikes Back, my reason for this is that again this is a massively important film in the Star Wars saga and a film which really brings the saga to life, so watching it early on in my view is really important.

What is also really important in my view is watching episodes 1 to 3 next. However, squeezing episodes 1 to 3 between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi may seem questionable, but I assure you it is not and in fact makes perfect sense. Allow me to explain, in Empire Strikes Back we learn that Darth Vader is Luke’s father which perfectly sets up episode six, Return of the Jedi first – the film where Luke will try to bring his father back to the light.

And this is important, without episodes 1 to 3 we don’t know much about just who Darth Vader is, yet by watching episodes 1 to 3 after the Empire Strikes Back that changes, because we learn the tragic story of just how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. And in doing so it sets us up perfectly for Return of the Jedi, which in my view carries much more emotional weight when you know just how Darth Vader became Darth Vader. And that’s because it tells us that there may just be some good in Darth Vader and that he might not be quite as bad as he seems, which perfectly ties in with the narrative of Luke believing that there is good in his father which is what the entire story of episode six Return of the Jedi is about.

But that’s not all, by watching episodes 1 to 3 at this point it gives us a proper look into the Emperor, just who he is and how he gained his power which helps to set the scene for just how much of a titanic battle it is going to be to overthrow the Emperor and free the Galaxy from his tyrannical rule. On top of that it also shows us just how much danger Luke is in regards to the Emperor’s attempts to turn him to the dark side. That is to say if he can turn Anakin maybe he truly can turn Luke.

So that’s why episodes 1 to 3 in my view are best watched squeezed between episodes five and six, they just carry so much more punch when watched at that point. In terms of what comes next, Disney’s contributions to the saga, episodes 7 to 9. The position of these are pretty much self-explanatory, though I have to be honest I was tempted to have these films at the beginning and that is because as enjoyable as the film’s are they are just not as good as the originals and you just cannot escape the feelgood factor that comes from finishing on episode six.

At the same time it is inescapable that story wise it just makes no sense to have them at the beginning hence why I somewhat reluctantly caved in and added them in their chronological place as the final three films. But if you’re not bothered about watching them in any form of chronological order I have to say I’m a big fan of watching these three films first so that you can finish on episode six.

And that’s because despite the lukewarm reaction to them by many, they are enjoyable films and they also are a great way to get yourself back into the mood for watching the original saga. And even if you’ve never watched the saga before they are a great way to introduce yourself to it in readiness to watch the originals.

I’m almost selling myself this order against the one that I have chosen, which is really the problem with the Star Wars films, there are many great ways in which to watch them. But in this post I want very much to focus on the best order story wise and that in my view is the order that I presented above.

With that said that’s me done, let me know if you agree or disagree!

The One and Only Ivan

A simple story told very well

What it’s about

The story for this film is derived from the true story of Ivan, a gorilla who for twenty-seven years lived in an American mall and never saw the light of day. It is of course a fictionalised account, the fact that you can talk probably gave that away. And that fictionalised account goes along the lines of Ivan, a gorilla, who lives in the Big Top Mall with his fellow animal acts, and a dog who as his best friend, sees his life change when a baby elephant named Ruby joins their act, and he makes a promise to her that she will see freedom.

My thoughts

This is one of those films where if you read the tagline it sounds like it is going to be one of those films which uses a real story to create a fictionalised typical Disney style straight to TV film.

Nothing wrong with that as Disney are very good at making such films, films which inevitably have that great feelgood factor to them. That is to say you know what you are getting, a grumpy person is set in their way, someone young comes in and changes everything, and they set off on a wondrous journey which after a few bumps along the way leads to a happy ending.

This film follows that MO to the T, but again that is not a bad thing and when the film starts you get the feeling that it is going to be a typical straight to TV style Disney film. Especially when the gorilla starts talking at the beginning, as good as the gorilla is it just reeks of low-budget.

And the chicken, there is a chicken, and that chicken to say the least the CGI is just terrible. They don’t even try to make it look real. But again that is just expected for what this film appears that it is going to be.

But this film is not what it appears it is going to be, it is in fact a lot more than it appears it is going to be, because to say the least if you can look past the poor CGI this film tells a simple and age-old story but it does so in a brilliant way.

Mike White derived the screenplay from a children’s book written by Katherine Applegate telling a fictionalised version of Ivan’s story and Thea Sharrock has done a great job at bringing that screenplay to life because it has to be said this is just one of those films that really pulls on the heartstrings. It will not blow your mind but that because it doesn’t want to, what this film wants to do is to leave you by the end with the feelgood factor, and it sure as heck will leave you by the end with that feelgood factor along with the feeling that it has been worth your while watching.

What that means is if you can look past the poor CGI and the fact that this is a heavily fictionalised account of Ivan’s true story (which is an amazing thing in itself), then this film is most definitely worth watching and fits the bill of an amazing story.

But like said it will only come across this way if you are willing to look beyond what it is not and see it for what it is. A very simple story told in a brilliant way.

All in all for that reason it gets a solid thumbs up from me.

​​Director: Thea Sharrock

Writer: Mike White

Genre: family, adventure, fantasy

Year: 2020

​Runtime: 95 minutes

Meet Joe Black

Death falls in love with the living threatening deadly consequences

What it’s about

Disguised as a human, Grim Reaper Joe Black comes to Earth to escort back the soul of media tycoon William Parrish. But Joe’s fascinating journey ends with him falling in love with William’s daughter.

My thoughts

What would happen if death fell in love with the living and the only way for them to be together was for death to take the life of the person he loves? This is the tantalising question that is asked in this film, and the journey to the final resolution is executed superbly.

If you’re not a fan of romances then it should be noted this is likely a film to miss, but if you do like romances and stories about the nature of love then this is a great watch.

Brad Pitt nails it as death, and Anthony Hopkins as ever puts in a stonking performance as the father of the daughter death loves, fighting to prove to death that he should not take the life of his daughter.

This film will make you think about the merits of love at first, and what it means to love full stop. All in all, most definitely entertaining, most definitely will make you think, most definitely worth watching. But like said only if you like romances.

Director: Martin Brest

Writer: Ron Osborn, Jeff Reno, Kevin Wade and Bo Goldman

Genre: drama, romance and fantasy

Year: 1998

Runtime: 181 minutes

Meet Joe Black

Death falls in love with the living threatening deadly consequences

What it’s about

Disguised as a human, Grim Reaper Joe Black comes to Earth to escort back the soul of media tycoon William Parrish. But Joe’s fascinating journey ends with him falling in love with William’s daughter.

What you will learn from watching it

​This is one of those films that most definitely will make you think specifically about the merits of love at first sight. And the way it goes about making you question the merits of it is simply genius.

A man and a woman meet in a coffee shop and really hit it off, then unbeknownst to that woman the man gets knocked over by a car. He is dead but death wanting to experience life takes over the man’s body and becomes Joe Black.

What follows is a fascinating love story, the woman turns out to be Susan Parrish the daughter of William Parrish who death has decided will be the man to teach him about the living world.

The question is does Susan Parrish love the man from the coffee shop or does she love death? This film is an investigation into that answer and a fascinating one at that, which will most definitely make you think.

Is the story any good

The story is loosely based on the 1934 classic novel death takes a holiday. However, Martin Brest who directed this film when talking about it mentioned that for years he had wanted to bring this film to life but struggled to find a way to make the premise work on screen, which likely explains why it went through eight different writers before it finally came to screen.

The premise is a fascinating one, and is along the lines of what would happen if death fell in love with the living and the only way for them to be together was for death to take the life of the person he loves but the person that he loves does not know that he is death, but instead thinks that death is the man that they fell in love with at first sight in a coffee shop one day?

Pretty long-winded and pretty complex which is no doubt why it went through eight different writers, it is also likely why the runtime is a staggering 181 minutes for what is at heart a very basic story.

But at its heart this is a very beautiful story, about a father’s love for his daughter, and in reality that’s what this film is a story about a father fighting to keep his daughter out of the hands of death.

This is very much an arty film but Anthony Hopkins performance is simply superb, Brad Pitt also puts in a stonking effort as death. The soundtrack for the movie composed by Thomas Newman is also extremely beautiful.

Meaning this is a beautiful story which is backed up with a beautiful soundtrack with excellent acting by the main characters. Which means yes the story is very good.

Final words

With a brilliant premise and a brilliant story normally I would be saying if you like stories about love then you should watch this film.

However, it should be noted that this film very much needs to be watched with a pinch of salt mentality, that means if you are a person that likes to tear a film apart then in all probability you will find this film a drag.

But if you are a person who is able to watch a film and see it for what it is, and you enjoy watching films about love then you will most definitely love this film.

That means this film gets a solid thumbs up from me, with a reminder that this is a three hour long love story.

Director: Martin Brest

Writer: Ron Osborn, Jeff Reno, Kevin Wade and Bo Goldman

Genre: drama, romance and fantasy

Year: 1998

Runtime: 181 minutes

Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

A film that will make you truly believe

What it’s about

This is the third remake and arguably the best version of a timeless Christmas classic the story of which was first penned by Valentine Davies, and sees a lawyer and a little girl fighting to save Christmas by proving that a man claiming to be Santa Claus is the real thing.

What you will learn from watching it

​What this film does really well is capture the fact that it is people that make Christmas what it is. People fighting for each other, people uniting with each other, more importantly people willing to believe in each other.

And really that’s what this film is about, the power of belief. And no belief is more important than a child’s belief that he or she has the right to believe what they wish. And that’s what this film does best, show just how important it is for a person to not only be able to believe, but to be allowed to believe.

Is the story any good

What director Les Mayfield along with screenwriters George Seaton and John Hughes perhaps do best is bring the story into the 90s world, many a great story has failed on screen when brought into a modern setting, but this is not one of them.

With excellent performances all round, most notably Mara Wilson as six-year-old Susan Walker, but also Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle this is a film with a story that reaches deep and will most definitely make you believe that Christmas miracles can happen.

Final words

Any person who loves Christmas films will surely appreciate this film, but even those who are indifferent to Christmas films will likely enjoy it. Is it one of the best Christmas films out there, probably not but it does tell one of the best Christmas stories.

That means without a doubt this film gets a solid thumbs up from me.

Director: Les Mayfield

Writer: George Seaton and John Hughes

Genre: fantasy, family

Year: 1994

Runtime: 114 minutes

Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

A film that will make you truly believe

What it’s about

To save Christmas a lawyer and a little girl must prove that a man claiming to be Santa Claus is the real thing.

My thoughts

This is the third remake and arguably the best version of a timeless Christmas classic. With excellent performances all round, most notably Mara Wilson as six-year-old Susan Walker, but also Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle this is a film that will most definitely make you believe that Christmas miracles can happen.

Is it the best Christmas film out there, no. Is it one of the best Christmas stories out there, yes. That makes it definitely worth watching meaning from me it’s a thumbs up.

Director: Les Mayfield

Writer: George Seaton and John Hughes

Genre: fantasy, family

Year: 1994

Runtime: 114 minutes